At the Movies: For 14th Year Running, NVIDIA Technologies Power All VFX Oscar Nominees

From desert planets to magical dragons, NVIDIA’s once again behind the year’s most captivating visual effects in film.
by Rick Champagne

For the 14th consecutive year, each Academy Award nominee for the Best Visual Effects used NVIDIA technologies.

The 94th annual Academy Awards ceremony, taking place Sunday, March 27, has five nominees in the running:

  • Dune
  • Free Guy
  • No Time to Die
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

NVIDIA has been pushing the boundaries of computer graphics for decades, enabling innovative studios and their incredibly talented artists around the world to create award-winning visual effects in films.

The latest technologies, powered by NVIDIA RTX, help artists push their creativity and craft to new levels of realism, bringing stunning visuals to the big screen.

Dystopian Worlds Come to Life in Epic Story

From flying spacecrafts to giant sandworms, the gorgeous, futuristic visuals in Dune were produced by Academy-Award winning studio DNEG.

For the sci-fi film, DNEG contributed to 28 sequences and nearly 1,200 visual effects (VFX) shots, with each elaborate element designed to bring director Denis Villeneuve’s vision to life. To do so, the studio worked across multiple locations with remote artists using virtual workstations powered by NVIDIA RTX.

DNEG was the first studio to implement NVIDIA virtual GPU software at scale. Now, DNEG continues its pioneering efforts with NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise as the studio looks to the future of connected, collaborative workflows.

“Every show we get is different from the last, and NVIDIA RTX with vGPU lets us scale the memory and performance characteristics up or down to meet the needs of our artists,” said Daire Byrne, global head of systems at DNEG.

All images courtesy of DNEG.

Exhilarating Visuals Go Beyond for Bond

DNEG secured a second Academy Award nomination with the latest James Bond installment, No Time to Die. This is the first Bond film to receive a VFX Oscar nomination since 1979’s Moonraker.

To create the film’s action-packed scenes, explosions and massive environments, DNEG delivered over 500 VFX shots. Its team used detailed references and scans to help design everything — from a glider and a sinking ship, to the island headquarters and thrilling car chases.

Breaking Out of Virtual and Parallel Universes

Three-time Oscar-winning studio Digital Domain received two VFX nominations this year for Free Guy and Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Its team created almost 350 VFX shots for Free Guy, for assets like digital doubles to entire computer graphics-based cities. Free Guy is also one of the first feature films that used Digital Domain’s face-swapping tool, Charlatan.

Charlatan replaces the face of a character with a hand-created facial model, and then combines it with the original performance using AI. This provides much more realistic results when working with digital doubles. Digital Domain also helped build the visuals for “Free City,” the game environment where the film takes place.

For Spider-Man: No Way Home, Digital Domain digitally recreated 2.5 square miles of New York City, one of the biggest computer graphics environments the studio has ever built.

A dramatic fight sequence — which shows the web-slinging hero battling the villainous Doc Ock and his mechanical arms — takes place on a bridge, with visuals and computer graphics elements that include various people, vehicles and weather conditions.

Digital Domain also used a digital double for Doc Ock, a character that actor Alfred Molina first played 18 years ago in the film Spider-Man 2.

Marvelous Characters Clash on Big Screen

Another one of Disney’s most recent Marvel films, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, showcased magical visuals from creative studio Weta Digital.

Weta worked on 300 shots and VFX sequences that included an epic dragon battle, realistic water simulations and the magical rings themselves. One of Weta’s challenges was to create the breathtaking sequences with the Great Protector, a wingless dragon, and the Dweller-in-Darkness, a creature made up of 128 million polygons.

Weta created custom rigs to deliver performances that emphasized the massive scale and weight of each creature. The team also developed a new AI system to assist with facial performances on the digital double of Shang-Chi’s father and main antagonist, Xu Wenwu.

Explore More VFX and Virtual Productions at GTC

While only one team will accept the award for Best Visual Effects, millions of artists create stunning visuals and cinematics with NVIDIA RTX technology. Learn more at NVIDIA GTC, which takes place March 21-24.

Registration for GTC is free. Sign up to experience how award-winning studios in the industry, including DNEG, HBO and ILMxLAB, are using NVIDIA RTX to unleash new possibilities in storytelling.

Featured image courtesy of DNEG.